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Hey, When You Wanna Hear It, Who Cares If It's Right?

I didn't blog about this study because it's, well, worthless. However, I commented as much on Amy Welborn's blog (direct link isn't working, so scroll down), saying:

The bottom line, going by raw numbers, without consideration of the self-selection represented by the "types of orders" in this conference, and assuming that the orders within it are equal in size (and assuming that my understanding of math hasn't entirely degraded), is that 0.0033% of nuns involved with the LCWR claim some form of genital contact with a "priest, nun, or other religious."

I don't know how many orders there are in total, but it breaks down thus: .22 (participating orders) x .04 (responding nuns) x .125 ("sexually exploited") x .75 (religious exploiter) x .04 (genital contact). (Then times 100 to make it a percentage.)

Ultimately, the broader picture could so easily go either way that it's hardly worth debating whether the number is high or low. This story is getting much too much play, as little as it is getting.

Now, I see that the story is being picked up elsewhere. Mrs. Welborn links to a must-read Letter to the Editor on the topic:

The front page subheading states "An estimated 40 pct. were victimized, some by priests, other nuns, survey found." However, nowhere in the article is there evidence for this 40 percent estimate. According to the tables in the article, 18.6 percent of the nuns who responded to the survey reported that they were sexually abused as children, and the majority of these incidents were at the hands of family members. The percentage reporting any instances of sexual exploitation or harassment during their religious life is lower (12.5 percent and 9.3 percent). Thus, the 40 percent claim and its association with "priests and other nuns" appears to be deliberately misleading.

Another subheading alleges that the study has been "kept quiet," when in fact, the results had been previously reported in two religious research journals. To attribute one's own lack of awareness to an alleged conspiracy when the research has appeared in print twice is both bizarre and suggestive of serious bias.

Speaking of serious bias, Andrew Sullivan takes the survey, and the hyperbolic spin, at face value:

Forty percent of women religious have experienced some kind of sexual abuse - many at the hands of the Church? Now how will the hierarchy manage to blame this on the homosexuals? No doubt they'll give it their best shot.

Or am I merely "blaming this" on the researchers? Amazing how we're apt to see what we want to see when the reality is an article of faith that we are determined to deny.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 10:40 PM EST

1 Comment

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Andrew 'Bareback' Sullivan is prepared to accept arguments/slanders about the Church he would never let pass elsewhere, for the simple reason that, like so many gay men, his worldview is sex-centered. To put it another way, he is cockeyed.

Mike Walsh @ 01/09/2003 03:25 PM EST